BY JAIROS SAUNYAMA

ABOUT seven million condoms were distributed across Mashonaland East province last year alone, in a bid to combat sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and new HIV infections.

Addressing scores of villagers at Bondamakara in Mutoko during a belated World Aids Day commemoration yesterday, Health ministry representative George Machacha said about 6,6 million condoms were distributed, while more than 20 000 males were circumcised.

“Against a background of high STIs, at least 6,6 million condoms were distributed across the province in 2018. The coverage of voluntary medical male circumcision reached 22 348 males, while we are currently at 6,7% towards the 5% target of virtual elimination of mother-to-child transmission. Our progress towards the first 90%, which requires people to get tested for
HIV , is now at 74%,” he said.

In Mashonaland East, STIs are highly prevalent in Marondera, Murewa and Nyamapanda as well as in farming communities and growth points along the Harare-Nyamapanda Highway.

Machacha added that 114 000 people in the province with HIV were on anti-retroviral therapy (ART).

“In addition to this, from when we started the ART programme in 2004 and with a negative economic landscape, Mashonaland East now has nearly 114 000 people living with HIV who are on ART, which is an 83% coverage. Of those that are on treatment, 83% are virally suppressed,” he added.

The World Aids Day commemorations were held under the theme Know Your Status.

Due to HIV prevention interventions such as condom distribution, male circumcisions, HIV testings, PMTC preventions and social campaigns for behaviour change, the HIV incidence rate has dropped to 0,48% in 2016 from 0,88% in 2011, while HIV prevalence rate remains stagnant at 14,1%.